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Family speaks out about crash allegedly caused by St. Lawrence County lawmaker

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 5:48 PM EST
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AKWESASNE, New York (WWNY) - They want it made clear: there were injuries and trauma. The Deshaies family says Tony Arquiett’s alleged crimes weren’t victimless ones.

The Deshaies had just been to youth hockey and were only two miles from home on Roosevelt Road in the town of Bombay.

Then things changed in an instant.

“I saw these big set of lights. All I could think of was a train … coming at us,” said Nicole Deshaies.

And then the noise and the airbags. Their pickup truck came to rest.

Nicole’s first thought was of her son asleep in back.

“We heard him start to cry and ask what the smell was and what the sound was and what was going on,” she said. “My son crawled up, got in front of me.”

Nicole said they all have seatbelt bruises. She’s going to physical therapy for her neck and back.

On Monday, Mohawk Tribal Police said 56-year-old Tony Arquiett crossed into their lane. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and cocaine possession. Most people were shocked. He’s a well known St. Lawrence County legislator.

The Deshaies felt something else.

“Weirdly for me, it doesn’t matter who it is. To me, it’s that person had a choice to get behind the wheel. It just shouldn’t have happened,” said Nicole.

She doesn’t know what justice would be at this point. She says her family will be always be grateful to emergency responders that showed up almost immediately.

There’s one good thing the Deshaies family is hoping can come from this. From the crash photos, from Nicole’s words, from a statement they made (seen below), that people will get the message.

“We need to fix this. We need to make sure that people are, people are, helping their families, making sure they’re not getting behind the wheel,” said Nicole.

Arquiett has said he intends to keep his seat in the county legislature. He’ll be due in Bombay Town Court on January 14.

Below is the statement from Nicole and Chris DeShaies:

Our family would like to thank all of the first responders, the Massena Rescue Squad, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department, the New York State Police, the Route 37 Auto Body Towing Service, and all of the other responding agencies that helped our family during the aftermath of the crash on Saturday night. All responders did an excellent job securing the scene, investigating the incident, and treating us on site.

Although our injuries are minor, we are fully aware that the outcome could have been much worse. Fortunately, our vehicle did its job in protecting us.

We are also grateful that our nine year old son was asleep at the time of impact. We cannot imagine having him see what my husband and I saw as the vehicle crashed into ours. We are traumatized by the event on so many levels and we pray that no one has to experience what we did on the night of December 4th, at 10:14pm.

Finally, we would like to thank our family that arrived on scene just minutes after the traumatizing event and all of the family and friends that have been reaching out and helping us.

Hold your families tight and if you know someone is under the influence, don’t let them get behind the wheel!

Respectfully,

Nicole and Chris Deshaies

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